Breakthrough 3d molecular structures set to shape future of nanotechnology?

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have, for the first time, demonstrated how 3d molecular structures can be built on a surface; a breakthrough they claim will shape the future of nanotechnology.

The team of chemists and physicists showed that by introducing a 'guest' molecule they could build molecules upwards from a surface rather than just 2d formations previously achieved. The process works through a natural biological process known as 'self assembly' where a 'guest' molecule is introduced to a surface and is spontaneously arranged into a structure.

Prof Neil Champness, pictured, said: "It is the molecular equivalent of throwing a pile of bricks up into the air and then, as they come down again, they spontaneously build a house."

The work is the culmination of a four year project supported by £3.5million of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It is said to offer scientists a completely new and controlled way of building up additional layers on the surface of a molecule.

The discovery could prove a significant step forward towards the development of new nano devices such as cutting edge optical and electronic technologies and even molecular computers.

Laura Hopperton

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